Monday, August 31, 2015

It's Cold, Grab Your Coat and Rhinestones --- Day 4/214

Walk: JCC, Trader Joe's
Distance: 2 miles, yoga class, and final try on's for completion of Fall closet caper

Report from Downtown Fall shopping:  Ciwt was struck by a lot of what looked like gimmicks or trying too hard by designers to do something new for Fall.  Winter Wool Items had short sleeves (kind of a contradiction).  Several designers have created Pea Jackets that have no sleeves at all. You slip your arm through the arm hole and then a cape from the shoulders 'covers' them (until the icy winds blow Ciwt surmises).  The gimmick of all gimmicks was designer (ie, terribly expensive) Puffer Coats with jewels dangling from the cuffs (a Total contradiction that actually made Ciwt laugh).  Unfortunately she didn't have her camera so can't illustrate, but for your viewing pleasure, here are some other 'silk purses' that have been made from the originally utilitarian puffer coat sow's ear.

Puffer Jacket with jewel fabric

Grey Red Valentino puffer jacket with black lace overlay, ruffle trim, sash at waist and front zip closure.

Here we go again with bare skin in New York winter.  Unless you decide to close for the full effect.

PS  --  Disclaimer:  Ciwt did not purchase any of these items

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Almost Out --- Day 4/213

Walk: Sacramento Street, Union Square
Distance: 1 mile and more trying on and off

Image result for out of the closet

Ciwt predicts that by tomorrow she will be out of her Fall closet.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Work Hard, Have Fun (?) -- Day 4/212

Walk: Union Square, Sacramento Street
Distance: 2 miles and lots of clothes on and off (tiring)

Image result for Amazon workers
Ciwt loves Amazon, the prices on many items, the convenience of having those well-priced things delivered - sometimes the same day! - at her doorstep.  But now she is beginning to worry about how stressed the people who put together and delivered her order are.  That set in after reading a recent New York Times article. (Click link at your own risk if you are an Amazon fan).

Thank you Amazon workers, whoever and wherever you are.  

Friday, August 28, 2015

Mother of a Painting --- Day 4/211

Walk: Union Square, Trader Joe's 
Distance: 3.5 miles

James McNeill Whistler, Arrangement in Grey and Black #1 (Whistler's Mother), 1871, o/c, 4' 9"x 5' 4"

Whistler's Mother is visiting Massachusetts' Clark Museum from the d'Orsay.  Ciwt should say she's back visiting because she was here in San Francisco a few years ago.  While she's here this arguably most famous work of art by an American artist is getting a lot of publicity including, for you New Yorker readers, an article in that publication this week. Piggy-backing, Ciwt says read it, and she's including in today's CIWT a picture of the full painting.  For some reason, the New Yorker article only pictures the top right quadrant even though it refers to the mother's legs, the curtain, the stool and other elements of the painting outside the quadrant pictured.  (Not showing the whole painting while writing about it seems strange to Ciwt ; maybe there is some copyright issue).

Whistler was a larger than life artist, sort of the (first)  Donald Trump of artists.  (As Oscar Wilde said of him: he spells Art beginning with I).  A writer could spin a bottle and come up with any number of interesting ways to talk about him.  Peter Schjeldahl looks at Whistler and the painting in terms of the meaning of motherhood in his article.  Ciwt chose to write a bit about his infamous Peacock Room controversy on Day 74 and his fascination with Japonisme on Day 2/350 if you care to look back.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

In the Fall it is called Rose Fever (vs Hay Fever) --- Day 4/210

Walk: Driving Day, Union Square
Distance: 1 mile, small home yoga

Temporarily out of commission due to headache. (Fall allergies)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Feet Up --- Day 4/209

Walk: Union Square 
Distance: Around and Around, Trying On, Taking Off

Resting after a hard day of retail therapy....

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Long Shadows And Good --- Day 4/208

Walk: JCC, Laurel Village
Distance: 2.5 miles, lots of stairs and yoga class

Kew Gardens - Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro, (French 1830-1903), Kew Gardens, 1892, oil on canvas

Ciwt thinks it must be late summer in London when Pissarro used his brush to capture men and women enjoying the remaining outdoor leisure before winter rain, chills and grey set in.  (He first came to London in 1870 seeking refuge for himself and his family from the Franco-Prussian War.  After that he returned several times).  Ciwt also surmises Pissarro was comfortable with this later time of year as he was with the later years of life. After age 40 he wrote, "I began to understand my sensations, to know what I wanted, at around the age of forty - but only vaguely."  Then during his 60th year he said "At fifty, that is in 1880, I formulated the idea of unity, without being able to render it.  At sixty, I am beginning to see the possibility of rendering it."

Monday, August 24, 2015

Other Mistaken Identities --- Day 4/207

Distance: 2.5 miles and yoga class

Charles Burchfield, An April Mood, 1946-55, Watercolor and charcoal on joined paper, 40x54"

My art going friend wrote to cheer me up about Ciwt's recent shoe mixup* by saying she'd gone to the Turner show thinking she was going a Burchfield show.  Boy was she surprised when she saw paintings like this instead!  
                                            JMW Turner, Chichester Canal, @1828

*Day 4/203

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Re: Hampstead Heath with Harrow in the Distance --- Day 4/206

Walk: TOTALLY exercised out.  Day of rest.

At Illuminations, the Legion's current little show of 18th and 19th century English works on paper, Ciwt was reacquainted with a lovely oil she had once written a paper about.  Here are both.

John Constable (1776-1837), English                                                
A View of Hampstead Heath  with Harrow in the Distance,                                                                     ca 1821-22                          
Oil/Paper Mounted on Canvas,   #1988.10.40                                   

From 1819 to 1826, John Constable rented a summer house at Hampstead where he meticulously observed and recorded cloud formations, weather conditions, and natural light effects; he believed an accurate rendering of these constantly shifting elements could transmit the vitality and freshness that was so important to his vision of the English countryside. (1) What Constable aimed at, above all, was to capture the freshness and sparkle of nature. Before his time no painters had dared to paint the full strength of nature's greens, and in the process of picture-making something of the life and scintillation of nature had always been lost. It was in his small sketches painted in the open air that he first achieved this dewy freshness. In them the direct vigor of his disunited touches conveyed exactly the glitter of light and tremor of atmosphere which earlier painters had missed. (2)

In this oil sketch of Hampstead Heath (an ancient park in the north of London, covering 791 acres*), Constable captures the effects of a windy late afternoon as a rainstorm moves in on billowing clouds.  In the foreground of the painting a diagonal path begins and splits the canvas.  Following the lower, backward moving half of the diagonal, the eye heads back past a pond, its white caps rolling up to shore and out further toward a horse and dismounted rider, then further back to two women ramblers, and sole final rambler. In the distance lie Harrow’s hills, the spire of St. Mary’s, and cirrus clouds that appear to carry rain.  The left or top diagonal teems with more natural activity: Huge billowing clouds rush forward obscuring the setting sun (and light source of the painting) and the leading tree in a clump of strong green oaks leans back toward the viewer, apparently permanently windblown.  Anyone of any era who has ever contemplated or a walk on such a day knows the probable temperature on their skin, the feel of the wind pressing against their bodies, the scurry to shelter as rain arrives.

Constable’s brushwork here is soft, washy, loose and indistinct.  It captures the quickly changing atmospheric effects and carries the spirit and mood of tidal movement and a strong maverick wind blowing clouds, trees and ramblers.  And it plays with light, underpainting the clouds with a soft peach, creating creamy froth on the waves, and catching things here and there with occasional and unexpected dots of pure white.  This energizing use of pure white was so unique to him it was called “Constable snow.” Overall, Constable’s fluid, energetic, inventive, and free use of oils in his sketches has encouraged some critics to prize the sketches on paper even over his finished, larger oils.  Constable himself almost never parted with the sketches, and they passed to his children through his estate. (3)

Even though he was formally trained for a few years at the Royal Academy (1799-1802), much of Constable’s technique was unique and self-taught.  Probably the training was of limited use to him because he had determined in his teens that he would paint his beloved countryside of England and the ability of anyone in the English Royal Academy would have been limited because English landscape painting was in its infancy. Constable never traveled abroad – or even far from his childhood home in Suffolk – although he had access to artwork by the 17th C Dutch landscape artists, and Claude Lorrain among other artists he trained himself by copying.

Perhaps ironically for one who did not go abroad, it was the French who most appreciated his work which was known in France. Several works were exhibited and sold in Paris, notably The Hay Wain, which won a Gold Medal at the 1824 Salon.  Eugene Delacroix especially admired him calling him “one of the glories of England” and adopting to some extent his loose, unbroken handling of paint.  But Constable’s principal influence in France was much more far-reaching particularly to the Barbizon group of landscape painters whose interest in naturalism and plein-air painting provided one of the strongest foundations for Impressionism.  Along with William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough and JMW Turner, he was one of the first great English painters of the 18th and 19th centuries, and arguably one of the greatest landscape painters in the history of Western European art. (4)

*Hampstead Heath (locally known as "the Heath") is a large, ancient London park, covering 320 hectares (791 acres). This grassy public space sits astride a sandy ridge, one of the highest points in London, running from Hampstead to Highgate, which rests on a band of London clay. The Heath is rambling and hilly, embracing ponds, recent and ancient woodlands, a lido, playgrounds, and a training track, and it adjoins the stately home of Kenwood House and its grounds. The SE part of the Heath is Parliament Hill, whose view over London is protected by law.  (Wikipedia, “Hampstead Heath”)  At the time of this painting, the Heath was much smaller (ca 313 acres) and source of many springs, including iron-impregnated medicinal waters which became know as the Wells.  It became a desirable place to live when taking the waters, and the unimproved, rough moorland of  the Heath was being encroached upon by developers.  Encroachment continued until the Hampstead Heath Act of 1871, and, since then new acreage has been added although most of the additions have been farmland or parkland and lack the moorland character of the old heath. (Jane Rosoux,



Saturday, August 22, 2015

Men to Match Meru --- Day 4/205

Walk: Sundance Kabuki (Meru), Trader Joe's
Distance: 3 miles

Shark's Fin on Mount Meru (21,000 feet)
                                                    Image result for Meru shark's fin

In Yosemite there was a cluster of small homes not far from the Awahnee under a canopy of trees and close to the rock face base of El Capitan.  This was where the most dedicated rock and mountain climbers lived, some with their young families. Maybe they still do.

In her young and mountain days, Ciwt stayed with one of those climbers, a friend of her boyfriend, and you could have cut the aura of solitude that penetrated the house and whole area with a knife. There was something serious, ethereal, and not all there surrounding all these climbing men in this special village. As if a part of them - probably a large part - was permanently inhabiting a mountain somewhere in their spirits, and they were not going to be complete until they rejoined it.

They were in a form of captivity it seemed when not climbing, and everything and everyone deferred to their need to be free, out of domesticity and back climbing again.  The men were just partially - and a little sadly - there and waiting.   And so were their families in a different way.

The documentary Meru follows men at the absolute apex of this uncommonly dangerous sport which functions more like a siren song. Three in particular: The long-famed Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin (who not only climbs but shoots movies as he does it) and Renan Ozturk (who also shoots) as they repeatedly attempt the holy grail of peaks, the shark fin of Meru in the Indian Himalayas.  What they go through, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually rises to a place beyond belief or description. It isn't inspiring because you just cannot possibly do what they do in this movie (and did in fact)- each in his own way and as an utterly interdependent team. And, from what you know of being alive, none of them should have been able to do these things either.  The movie is just terrifying much of the time and stunning throughout.  Ciwt loved Meru; if extreme, unadorned human grit and virtually supernatural, broad-based attainment is for you, you will love it too.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Red Letter Year on the Way --- Day 4/204

Walk: Opera Plaza Cinema (Phoenix)
Distance: 3.6 miles and home yoga

2016 Calendar already!  Plus Mr. Nielson sent Ciwt some money.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Two Shoes --- Day 4/203

Walk: Corte Madera Shopping, Laurel Village
Distance: 3 miles and small yoga stretches

Notice anything?

Ciwt didn't until she was well into her walk today.  She's preparing her sense of humor for the possibility of more sartorial - and other - 'creations' ahead.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Are These Pretty? --- Day 4/202

Walk: Legion of Honor Museum
Distance: A few blocks (8 maybe)

This was one of the main flower arrangements at the Legion today.

Here's the other one:  

Ciwt can't quite grasp what the florist was thinking.  But the Rodins in the background are nice.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

No Slouch --- Day 4/201

Walk: JCC, Fillmore, HiTech Nails
Distance: 4 miles and take yoga class

Today several people sent Ciwt the new New Yorker profile of Joan Didion in her old Haight Ashbury days.  So she's going to grab Callie, the magazine, a non-Hippie glass of wine and hopefully enjoy reading it.  Maybe comment at some point, we'll see.  She remembers seeing JD several years ago after her daughter and husband had died, and she was promoting her touching book The Year of Magical Thinking. She looked so fragile but still had that bleakly incisive mind.

Monday, August 17, 2015

He's Baack - Sort of, Maybe --- Day 4/200

Walk: CPMC
Distance: 2.5 miles, home yoga

Image result for passive aggressive

Annals of Wishy-Washy Dating, Part 2* 

Ciwt just received this out of the blue from her Part 1 acquaintance*:

Uh, what happened? (yes, I'm sometimes clueless). This looks like a nice email exchange and I fear my being so busy has caused me to drop the ball on a much needed social opportunity. Did we speak by phone?

Etc, etc.  He somehow lost the rest of the correspondence (from three weeks ago after we, yes, spoke on the phone) which answers all his questions.  Imagine spending time around such a person.  People working for, married to, living with Passive-Aggressives and eternal children must contend with this all the time.

*(See Day 4/179)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Kinda Straight -- Day 4/199

Walk: Sundance Kabuki Theater (Straight Outta Compton)
Distance: 2 miles and small home yoga

  mid 80's

Straight Outta Compton has its moments (many) but too much you don't really care about or particularly understand is going on. Nonetheless, if you want to learn more (or just the bare bones in Ciwt's case) about the origins of L.A. rap, this is your movie.  Then - or now - if you want to read a review by someone entirely more qualified than she, Ciwt suggests this link.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Back to the Library --- Day 4/198

Walk: Clay Theater (Diary Of A Teenage Girl)
Distance: 1 mile (it's hot here)

It looked just the same as the day Ciwt saw them shooting the movie there . The Presidio Branch of the Library*.  She came home, wrote about it in CIWT 4/16, then forgot completely about it. Until she was a little way into today's movie, Diary of a Teenage Girl.

From watching the filming at the library that day and hearing the title, Ciwt got the sense it was a breezy, young adult affair. Affair it is, but certainly not breezy. Nor does it work entirely. But the material is complicated to say the least and is handled with an intelligence, thoughtfulness and skill that raises the bar uniquely high for truthful, female coming of age movies.

It takes place in the 1970's when San Francisco still has a slight lingering whiff of of the Haight-Ashbury summer of drugs and free love. It's not a happy, pretty San Francisco.  The City's colors are inaccurately muted, and the sets are nothing you want to cozy up to whether they are indoor in very real houses, bedrooms and bars or outside in mostly nothing places. There is something continuously off-putting and uncomfortable going on, and Ciwt realizes this discomfort is just what the director and cinematographer had in mind.  It echoes the way the viewer feels sitting in the theater watching the movie.

The teenage girl in question is artistic Minnie in full pubescence while being 'raised' by a 'fun-loving' party-girl mother and the mother's man-child boyfriend.  The divorced father is across the country in New York, which is about the only boundary set in the movie.  In the midst of this free-wheeling pharmacologist playground of a home life the teenage girl and the 35 year old man-child begin having a real sexual relationship mostly at the man's apartment.  And in a non-moralizing, non-judgmental, overtly sexual but not erotic way the film lays out Minnie's struggles to reconcile the many traumas, difficulties, confusions of this complex situation with her new, intensely felt sexuality and emerging sense of personal womanhood and adult identity.  If such a description appeals to you, Ciwt says go. Obviously it's not for everybody. (PS - But it definitely is for Aline Kominsky-Crumb fans)

        The Diary Of A Teenage Girl
Image result for diary of a teenage girl
                                                    Kristen Wiig, Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard     

*For a little more about the Presidio Branch Library look way back at CIWT 2.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Settled on Turner --- Day 4/197

Walk: CPMC (annual mammogram), Van Ness errand
Distance: 2.5 miles and nice, long home yoga

Oh good; it's settled ahead of time.  Ciwt has always wondered which artist she would spend his money on when she meets her tech billionaire.  She thought Vermeer, and of course Matisse.  But the Matisse multiples she has look great and do the trick. And Vermeer is a little too formal. But, Turner! - oh my, his art looks just perfect in her home.

Her art-going friend surprised her with a lovely reproduction of one of his finest watercolors.  Which is saying something - because Ciwt and others believe that was his strongest medium of all.  At first she was going to hang it, but then she noticed that no matter where she places it, it imparts a warm, soothing glow that encourages everything around it to twinkle a bit more.  Magic really.     So she'll keep it free for a while and put it where it suits her best that day.  Then when her billionaire comes along she'll add many more Turners and cancel PG&E because she'll no longer need electric lights for illumination.

PS - Here's the original, presently visiting San Francisco in the de Young Museum's Turner show: 
          JMW Turner, The Blue Rigi, Sunrise, 1842, Watercolor on paper

Thursday, August 13, 2015

New Realties --- Day 4/196

Walk: Driving Day
Walk: A Dock, Sausalito

Image result for i am cait tv show

Ciwt never thought she'd actually watch a reality tv show, let alone about the you know who family (hint: starts with a K). But to accommodate her transgender acquaintance/friend, Ciwt agreed to watch I Am Cait so we can talk.

After figuring out how to access a reality show on her computer, Ciwt tried. But, unfortunately, to Ciwt's eyes - it's pretty unwatchable.  Not because of the subject matter, but in terms of what constitutes a good, or even okay television experience. Very disjointed with long vapid periods of jejune chit-chat and endless glasses of wine.

The best news: The women who completed their changes decades ago and have extensive real world wisdom. They are marvelous to a person.  And they are earnestly trying to impart at least some of that wisdom to Caitlyn (Jenner), but for now she seems completely unable to hear any of it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Infinite Intelligence --- Day 4/195

Walk: Candlestick Park (for KNT), Sundance Kabuki (The End of the Tour (2))
Distance: 2 miles

Bloomington, Illinois

The delete yesterday was for the best.  It has only happened to Ciwt 3-4 times since having a computer, and always it has been when she is feeling ambivalence but trying to override it.

There were many things enchanting, endearing and seductive that pulled people (definitely including Ciwt) to David Foster Wallace personally and in his writings. Many of these elicit a sense that you are really getting to know him.  But, no; it couldn't be done.

You can know his size, his athletic but also lumbering heft.  The freshness and immediacy of his mind was apparent from 1000 yards.  His voice was soft, distinctive, and melodious; he was in glee clubs.  There were teeny tics, grimaces, hesitations, so much humor.  According to his sister, he was a perfect mime who could get into people's skins and minds and voices within moments.

Ciwt can totally appreciate his hair, his relationship with it.  It was unruly, stringy and he was a total perfectionist with incredibly high standards for himself.  He went through a variety of strange periods with that hair, Ciwt guesses trying to reconcile it with his standards. But there was fluidity with the standards, a persistent wonderment about exactly how he should look and be perceived. Finally he settled on a constant bandanna which probably obfuscated the hair situation, absorbed his periodic heavy sweating and might have functioned as a sort of security blanket.  (Ciwt sometimes wears hats..)

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said in The Crack-Up, "The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."  Ciwt likes to think Fitzgerald would have been unprecedentedly astounded if he had encountered Wallace's intelligence. It appears as if Wallace (Ciwt fights the urge to call him David, like a known friend)  encountered every moment anew and in its entirety.  At once he took in the person, the clothes, the weather, maybe historic weather patterns,  the room, the furniture in it, maybe how it was made, the morality of the situation, the many possibilities for what was expected and how to look and act.  From the outside it appears this and more exploded into and was held by his consciousness while he applied his maddening and compelling intelligence to (perfectly) organizing the material at hand.

For Ciwt - and many, many others including the MacArthur Genius grantees - just witnessing this is awesome, breathtaking.  He so distrusted the role of entertainment in our culture, but, yes, his intelligence and whole way was highly, highly entertaining.

All of which makes another part of Ciwt - and many others she's sure - guilty and sad because David Foster Wallace was also very vulnerable and fragile.  He was seriously depressed for a long, long time and worked very, very, very hard to both hide (because it was private) and resolve the sense of helplessness, diminishment and who knows what else the depression entailed.  He also worked exceedingly hard at his craft; Ciwt cannot imagine the energy it would take to sit alone for three years in a black-painted (by him) room in Illinois (which he loved) writing a 1,000+ page book every word of which met the highest personal standards of his perfectionist sensibilities.  Which is what he did with Infinite Jest.

So, here's Ciwt writing about David Foster Wallace in spite of herself.  If you're interested in him or an author's life well told or excellent indies, Ciwt highly recommends The End of the Tour where you can see 'him' for yourself.  Nearly every word of dialogue was spoken by him into a tape recorder for a Rolling Stone  reporter who stayed with him for five days in the days of Infinite Jest fame.  So the movie is as accurate an accounting of that time as can be. (The family is understandably upset the recordings were used this way, but there have been no embellishments to his actual thinking and words). Jason Segel comes as close to capturing Wallace as anyone could so there is great respect in the acting. Bloomington, dogs, the things that were close to Wallace at the time are also respected.

So, if this is your type of movie, and you like uniquely likable, original people and powerhouse minds, go.
Image result for david foster wallace David Foster Wallace

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Infinite Frustration --- Day 4/194

Walk: JCC
Distance: 16 blocks and yoga class

Image result for david foster wallace's dogs

Ciwt has been quite obsessed with David Foster Wallace after seeing the movie The End of the Tour and then reading articles by and about him as well as videos of him or of friends who knew him. She let it all sink in, and finally summoned the words for a long, lovely CIWT piece about him.

Which got deleted.  Just Now.  She's crushed.  Boo Hoo.  She'll try again soon; so stay tuned...

Monday, August 10, 2015

LA Vignette: Come Into My House, Dearie --- Day 4/193

Walk: JCC, Pets Unlimited
Distance: 2 miles and yoga class

Right near this house Image result for beverly hills mansions and
this house Image result for beverly hills mansions and other Beverly Hills mansions is
The Witch's House .  And it is Beloved! by the neighbors!  When the current owner put up construction netting for an extensive remodel and labor of love (see video in link about), he received hate mail by them because they thought he was going to tear it down.  Apparently it is now a tourist attraction, but Ciwt had no idea it existed and couldn't believe her eyes when her driver turned the corner from the rows and rows of eye-popping mansions, and there it was!  Image result for hansel and gretel house in beverly hills